Legal concerns over medical abortions
QUEENSLAND GP obstetricians authorised to prescribe drugs for medical abortions have been urged to rethink the practice by leading gynaecologists, who claim they may be risking criminal prosecution.
Cairns-based gynaecologists Dr Caroline de Costa and Dr Michael Carrette have said they will stop offering this option to patients, after a 19-year-old woman was charged with procuring a medical abortion using drugs obtained from overseas.
They are concerned that if she is found guilty, cases could be brought against Queensland doctors and their patients.
“We’ve taken legal advice because we know that medical abortion is a very uncertain area in Queensland,” Dr de Costa said.
The problem arose because, while the state’s 110-year-old abortion legislation affords some protection for those procuring and providing surgical abortions, it does not cover medical abortions.
Those breaking the laws could face up to 14 years’ imprisonment.
Dr de Costa called for law reform. However, Attorney-General Cameron Dick reassured doctors that they and their patients were under no increased legal threat.